Stop Complaining About Life In The Inland Empire
Living in the Inland Empire is not as bad as some complaints lead us to believe. Yes, there are some high crime areas here, but there are also some low crime areas too. Many people write online about how if you live in the 909 (area code here) that you must be one of several unsavory terms I really do not feel like repeating. Sorry, but not all of the Inland Empire is that way, and there are still many gems to be had in this part of Southern California. The Inland Empire was first named to describe how the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were Inland from the Los Angeles basin, and to promote the citrus industry in the area. Today Mentone, Redlands, Loma Linda, and Riverside are some of the few areas where you can see orange groves that were once prevalent in the region. Honestly, I hate to see the orange trees cut down as their fragrance is one of the most intoxicating things I have ever encountered. Early this April I would simply walk outside to smell the orange trees, which are very aromatic as I do not live too far from an orange field. Gee, does this sound horrible to you? Yes I know not all parts of the Inland Empire are that peachy, or should I say orangey? However, one thing is for certain; some people are so obsessed with delineating all the bad that they miss the good. This is true for any town or city, so stop focusing on the bad and start finding some of the great things your neck of the woods has to offer, such as hiking trails, libraries, and museums.
What about the San Bernardino Mountains? This wonderful mountain range is just one of the many gems that we have here in the Inland Empire. You really only need to spend a day in Lake Arrowhead Village, but I can recommend checking out several other places. However, if you are new to Lake Arrowhead a trip to the Village is always fun, but not easy to find parking on some weekends and holidays.
The Indian Rock Camp
Drive to the Indian Rock Trail by taking Highway 173 from Lake Arrowhead Village. The Indian Rock Camp can be hiked to by taking the half mile Indian Rock Trail which ends at the Indian Rock Camp with the plaque in the picture. This is a nice small hike, which is ideal for families with little ones. Once you get to the Indian Rock Camp you can check out the metate rocks, which comes from the Spanish word for grinding mortar. Here Serrano Indian women used to grind acorn meal to help sustain their families for the winter. I highly recommend seeing the metate rocks if you get a chance to go up to the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Indian Rock Trail can be reached by taking Highway 173 from Lake Arrowhead Village, but make sure to go to a visitor center to pick up an adventure pass for parking in the San Bernardino National Forest. Daily adventure passes cost five dollars, but a year long adventure pass costs about thirty. If you come to the mountains several times a year it is a better deal to buy the annual pass, which can be purchased at local ranger stations.
The Pinnacles In Lake Arrowhead
The Pinnacles in Lake Arrowhead are the premier hiking destination for those who seek thrills, or for those who just want a more rigorous hike. Rock climbers can propel themselves up the large rocks out on The Pinnacles, but the more safety conscious people such as myself can hike up The Pinnacles Trail. So did you already buy your San Bernardino National Forest Adventure Pass? Good, because you can use it to park at the trail head, or for parking anywhere else in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Pinnacles Trail is a steep climb in some places, but it is easy to traverse even for children. Back in the eighties when I was a youngsternI could easily climb this trail, and the trail has been since improved by the Sierra Club, which is a wonderful organization in my humble opinion. Honestly I have always been somewhat of a good hiker having grown up in the mountains, but I definitely recommend hiking for those who do want to get in better shape. Hiking The Pinnacles Trail is not impossible for the novice hiker, but just keep in mind this is not a flat trail. Once you get to the top of The Pinnacles you can look down to Hesperia to below, and over to Cajon Pass and Mount Baldy to the south, and even out towards the San Gorgonio Mountains to the east.
Hopefully seeing there are some great sites in the San Bernardino Mountains will help people realize the Inland Empire is not all bad. We have some very nice communities in the Inland Valley, and one should not forget to visit historic downtown Redlands when in the area. Dining at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside is also another gem, but the prices are slightly on the higher side. I have never ate at the Mission Inn, but I once volunteered for a book reading there, which gave me the opportunity to explore the building. Many people have weddings at the beautiful chapel there, which is something those marriage minded may want to look into planning their nuptials. The Inland Empire is not all bad, but I noticed people usually find the negative things when they go sifting for drama. Instead, focus on the many gems we have in the Inland Empire, such as museums, great hiking trails, and the heady scent of orange blossoms during the spring.